For those who believe Kobe Bryant is the 25th-best player in the NBA, look behind you; the Black Mamba is staring at you, tapping his feet, holding up a tissue and transparent plastic cup while pointing to the nearest bathroom.
ESPN placed Kobe at No. 25 in its most recent NBA player rankings, down from No. 6 in 2012. Naturally, this wasn't going to sit well with the Mamba.
When asked about being No. 25, Kobe suggested that anyone who ranks him that low should be drug-tested, per the Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus:
Drug-tested for what, exactly? We're not sure. But Kobe has a point.
Even at 35, and even while he's rehabbing a ruptured Achilles, Kobe is better than No. 25. Just last season, he finished in the Top 10 in player efficiency rating (23.0) while averaging the second-most minutes per game (38.6) of all qualified players.
The complexity of his recovery clearly impacts his standing, but dropping him 19 spots is extreme. Under-the-influence insane, perhaps.
So of course Kobe wasn't happy. He was irate to begin with.
ESPN had already predicted his Los Angeles Lakers would finish 12th in the Western Conference. Stashing him behind guys such as Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh and John Wall in the player rankings is the equivalent of poking a roaring bear with a stick made of honey. Or asking Michael Scott to work alongside Toby Flenderson:
Before Kobe even demanded advocates of his position be given the J.R. Smith treatment, he changed his Twitter avatar to reflect his personal ranking and Los Angeles' standing out West. Though he says "1225" is in reference to his pet's birthday, per the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina, I'm not buying it. I know for a fact the Bryant family's platypus was born on Christmas Eve. (Kidding.)
This is what Kobe does—he takes criticism and uses it as motivation. Those who doubt him are the ones who will fuel his rise to the top again. They're also the ones who need to rethink their skepticism.
Anyone who finds themselves still unable to believe in him after digging deep into their soul, I have but one piece of advice: Remember to wipe the seat on your way out.